Till the Census Do Us Part?

National Black Justice Coalition CEO H. Alexander Robinson discusses the U.S. government policy that "requires all federal agencies to recognize only opposite-sex marriages for the purposes of administering federal programs."

BY Advocate.com Editors

December 12 2008 12:00 AM ET

The examples of
the unfairness of the second-class status of
America’s gay and lesbian couples continue to
mount. Though married, my husband, Greg, and I --
along with tens of thousands of married same-sex couples
-- will be unmarried in the eyes of the U.S. government
unless something is done quickly to fix the upcoming

Several months
ago the U.S. Census Bureau announced that the procedures
used to count and tabulate relationship data would be
“guided by and comply with legal requirements
of the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, which requires
all federal agencies to recognize only opposite-sex
marriages for the purposes of administering federal
programs.” The bureau has stated that any
respondents who mark off people of the same gender as
“husband” or “wife” on the new
census form will be automatically classified as an
“unmarried partner.”

How is it a
census if we don’t even count?

Although same-sex
couples are legally married in Massachusetts,
Connecticut, and California, census officials say that
same-sex partners who list themselves as spouses will
be recorded as "unmarried partners" -- just as they
were in the 2000 census. The Census Bureau reasons
that DOMA, approved by Congress and signed by President Bill
Clinton, prohibits the federal government from recognizing
as a marriage the union of anyone but a man and a

To put it another
way, the president who was swept into office in no
small measure with the help of gay and lesbian voters (and
who proclaimed that he had a vision of America and
that gay and lesbian people were a part of it), aided
and abetted by an irrational Congress, may have
ensured that the federal government will deny reality and
Photoshop gay and lesbian families out of the picture.
Census officials have said the agency will retain
same-sex spouses' original responses but will edit
them for the published census tabulations.

Tags: Politics